Customer Review

255 of 255 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good product, excellent value, and superior customer support - some technical caveats, though, July 18, 2013
This review is from: NIX 12 inch Digital Photo Frame with 4GB Memory Drive - X12B (Camera)
I'm not sure what happened to the digital frame market, but it was really hard for me to find a quality 10-12 inch frame at a decent price. (Maybe everyone is using their iPads and Android tablets instead!) The NIX X12B seemed to fit the bill, however, and even though I wasn't familiar with the NIX brand, I took a chance.

After using the unit extensively over the last month or so, I like it a lot. It has a lot of functionality for the price -- for example, it will play music files (.MP3's only) as background to your slideshow and it will play video files (MPEG-4 and AVI are OK) separately -- that is, not interspersed with pictures in a slideshow. The frame software has some rudimentary editing functions for picture ordering. You can select from a number of different picture transition speeds (fastest is 3 seconds) and transition modes -- think Microsoft PowerPoint slideshows. It has a calendar mode and you can play a slideshow next to the calendar if you want. There is a clock/alarm and you can program auto power-on and power-off times (nice feature if you use the frame on your desk at work...) The remote control is the pretty standard "credit card" sized device and you'll definitely want to use it instead of the more limited controls at the back of the frame itself. It also comes with a 4GB USB drive (albeit a bit flimsy one), but please read my caveats, below, regarding file sizes. You can also use an SD card (not supplied.) Please note that the frame itself does NOT have any internal memory, so everything (JPEG, MP3, MPEG files) will need to reside on a USB drive or an SD card. USB "thumb" drives are incredibly cheap now anyway, so this should not be considered a negative.

From a quality perspective, the frame seems to be well made and stable on a table when the pull-out "easel-type" stand is extended. It's a bit thicker and heavier than a 10-inch Sony frame I also have, but for a device that you don't actually hold when in use, this isn't a problem. The screen resolution is 800 x 600 pixels ("SVGA" is pretty standard for mid-range frames), which is a 4:3 aspect ratio. Please note that most digital photos are close to a 4:3 ratio, so if you're considering getting a wide-screen frame (16:9 aspect ratio and 1024 x 600 pixels), it really doesn't really get you much. This is just like watching non-high def TV shows on your high def wide-screen TV; you get the black "letterbox" bars on the left and right side. So, I have no issue with the X12B frame being 4:3 ratio. The frame will auto-size/auto-rotate and optimize the photo for the aspect ratio of the frame.

Now for the technical caveats:

1. The frame will only display pictures that are in the .JPG file format. If your digital pictures are in a different file format (.TIFF, .BMP, .RAW, etc.) you will need to use one of the many free utilities available on the Internet to convert them to .JPG's.

2. The NIX X12B appears to be very sensitive to the length of filenames and the size of .JPG files when it comes to slideshow transition speed and picture display "random-ness" when the random display mode is selected. (This is the only significant technical issue I had to overcome with the frame.)

So here's the most important caveat that you must know -- and I suspect that this applies to almost all digital frames: It is highly likely that your digital camera has a MUCH higher resolution than the digital frame does. Even if your smartphone has only a 2 megapixel camera, this is about 4 times the resolution of any 800 x 600 pixel digital frame. Bottom line is that there is A LOT more detail in a picture from a 12 MP digital camera than could ever be displayed on your frame. If you look at the file sizes of the pictures from your camera, if they are over 480 KB, then you're just wasting space on the USB drive (or SD card) you're using for the digital frame. There is a great FREE (non-commercial use only) utility from FastStone ([...] called Photo Resizer that will easily adjust all your bloated .JPG files down to 800 x 600 for use with a digital frame. (It can also optionally rename the files in batch to short, numerically sequenced filenames -- which the X12B seems to like better than long, randomly named, files.) So, once the files are re-sized and re-named, the X12B appears to operate very well. Although there is no such thing as true programmatic randomization, the NIX random algorithm could use some improvement in my opinion. This is the only remaining quibble I had with the unit, and as I mentioned, it might very well be an issue on other brands of digital frames as well.

As an aside, once you've re-sized your photos to 800 x 600 pixels (a maximum of about one-half megabyte), you could get about 8,000 pictures on the 4 GB USB drive that NIX supplies with the unit. That's why a 4 GB drive is a bit of overkill -- you could easily use a cheap 256 or 512 MB USB drive and have more than enough room for hundreds of pictures. Want to display more? Just swap in a different USB drive... The whole file re-sizing/re-naming process is thoroughly described on NIX's web site (support FAQ's) -- which leads me to my last caveat/comment:

3. As a retired Technology Director, I have managed many customer support units over the years. As a consumer, I have dealt with (and sometimes suffered through) tens of customer support organizations. I have to say that NIX customer support is OUTSTANDING. I originally contacted them via e-mail and was amazed by the promptness of their reply (within hours -- normal business hours.) Their tech reps were knowledgeable and courteous. When there was an issue or question that was beyond their authority, they quickly forwarded me to management who was able to resolve all issues to my full satisfaction. NIX's web site also has a lot of good self-help information and electronic copies of user manuals (in case you lose your hard-copy one.)

Whether you buy this or another NIX model -- or you choose another brand -- do yourself a BIG favor and perform this simple test: Go to the manufacturer's web site and see what kind of support resources there are for the particular model you are interested in. Is the model you want actually a currently offered/supported model? Is there only the sales brochure available on the site? Can you get a copy of the manual? Is there a knowledge base or a FAQ section -- and does it actually address common issues one might encounter? Do they have a support phone number, e-mail address, or live chat? (In NIX's case, there is a pretty extensive knowledge base and they only have e-mail support -- but again, I found that to be as good, if not better than, most phone support.)

Final word: I'm glad that I took the chance with the NIX X12B frame. Give it -- or one of NIX's other frame models -- serious consideration when you select and purchase a digital frame. Thanks for reading my lengthy review; hope it helps you! ;-)
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 10, 2013 5:21:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 22, 2013 5:25:20 PM PDT
UT says:
Another Update - 21Aug2013
After many trials/errors and time spent on two X12B units for my sisters and one X15B for another, I have successfully loaded nearly 8,000 photo files on an SD memory card and have had reasonable random slide show activity, i.e., without too much stutter and dwell on any particular photo. This is mostly because I used the NIX website to download FastStone Photo Resizer / Renamer and run the two processes on all these photos before loading them to the memory card (note, i.e., a Class 6 or better memory card, and not the 4GB USB stick that comes with the unit - the stick is not fast enough for the random setting). The randomizing function will be an issue if the FastStone product is not used. It took me a while to go through all the FAQs on the NIX website to discover the download for the FastStone software. Before this discovery, nothing I did seemed to work well when using the random setting.

Just my opinion, but it would be good if NIX promoted this product (FastStone) upfront with the instruction manual, or perhaps preloaded the installation files for FastStone on the USB stick that comes with the NIX frames. A clearer set of instructions to reduce file sizes and more importantly rename (simplify) the files would save the users many issues with loading their files and using the random algorithm, which apparently "likes" the final product of resizing and renaming; the latter, btw, seems to greatly help in reducing the latency between displayed photos for employing larger numbers of files (say greater than 1,000).

Better yet, for those who are not computer savy, a process program to do both file manipulations would also be good.


Update 10 Aug 2013 - After some experimenting with the second 12B model (this one for my other sister), I have found a work-around for the randomizing issue: Ditch the USB chip that comes with the unit, and use a Class 10 high-speed SanDisk SDHC or other comparable memory card and limit the file sizes to about 500K or so - the randomizing feature will be acceptable. It appears, then, that the USB stick that accompanies the 12B is really slow, and therefore will slow down each photo file uploaded to the NIX 12B. In this case, faster memory is obviously better.

Agree with the randomizing issue - I gifted a 12B version of this to my sisters. After loading up 3500 pictures of less than 500K each at 768x1024, the random feature stuck after about 3 or 4 photos, then thought a while on the next photo for about a minute, then showed the next 3 or 4 photos, and so on. NIX product support were cordial enough, however, stated that the large number of photos caused the processor to burden itself with a randomizing algorithm. Huh? Put a better processor in the brains of this thing, then. We kept the frame and set it at sequential - I "randomized" the set by copying them in order of time stamp (not date stamp) - this seemed to have the same effect, albeit it will repeat about five times in fourteen hours at a selected three second interval. Well, you get what you pay for.

Posted on Dec 3, 2013 10:17:23 AM PST
MeganS says:
I ordered this frame as a Christmas gift for my technology illiterate MIL. I cannot thank you enough for your helpful review. I bought the SDHC card that you recommended, resized the files and am now going to attempt to set up the frame so that all she has to do is plug and play on Christmas morning. Thanks to your review, I was able to arrange, resize, and move the files and have them ready to go before the frame even arrived.
Hopefully when I use the frame, it goes just as smoothly.
Thanks again
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